14ymedio, Havana, 20 March 2016 — Mario Félix Lleonart, a Baptist minister, was detained on Sunday as he attempted to leave his home in the town of Taguayabón, Villa Clara Province. A strong police presence had surrounded his home since Saturday. According to Lleonart’s wife, Yoaxis Marcheco, he was forced into a police car the moment he stepped outside his house.
A few hours before his arrest, Pastor Lleonart sent a statement to this newspaper’s editorial board. In it, he denounces the harassment to which he was being subjected. Here below we publish excerpts of his account.
The Cuba Barack Obama Will Find
By Félix Mario Lleonart, Taguaybón
The excitement of the past few days has given way to all types of news reports about Cuba. Apart from the ceaseless and flagrant violations of human rights that those of us on the island must endure, we are also aware that Cubans living abroad are having their rights violated as well.
It is no secret that the Communist Party is conducting an all out mobilization of its members in order to fill the Latin American Stadium for the baseball game between the Cuban National team and the Tampa Bay Rays. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, is expected to attend.
While this mobilization is under way, many people are being pressured to not even leave their homes. Moreover, genuine aficionados of our national sport, who always claim “not to care about politics,” because they are “just sports fans,” this time around are being forced to “sit out the game.”
We have also learned that (Cuban-American) Ana Lupe Bustos has been banned from entering Cuba as a reprisal for her work with the Ladies in White. This stands in complete contrast to an experience I had when I came across an émigré while walking around my hometown. When I greeted him, his response was akin to an act of repudiation. This man, who had been president of his Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, was still a genuine CDR supporter, regardless of the fact that he had left the country.
Furthermore, as of Saturday afternoon, numerous State Security and National Revolutionary Police agents have surrounded a property belonging to the Association of the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba. The Ebenezer Baptist Church, where my wife and I serve as pastors, and where our daughters live, is located on said property.
For weeks now we have been warned that we would be kept from moving around freely during Obama’s visit to Cuba. These warnings are now being put into effect. As declared by the United Nations, today is the International Day of Happiness, coinciding with Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week observances. I will probably be arrested, although I have no plans of going to Havana.
Translated by José Badué